Japan to freeze the ground at Fukushima to prevent contaminated water leakage
In order to stop contaminated groundwater from leaking at the Fukushima nuclear power station, the Japanese are planning to use artificial permafrost there. They’re going to drill 30-metre-deep pipes with liquid nitrogen. The construction of the huge underground fridge will start soon and is scheduled to end next year.
The situation with the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactors still remains very serious. Three years have passed since the time when an earthquake and tsunami caused a disaster at the power plant, but a great deal of experts still describes the situation as a crisis which might transform into a catastrophe if continuous leaks of radioactive water are not stopped.
At the moment, the radiation level at the power station and in its neighborhood breaks all the records. In fact it’s so high that can kill a person over a period of a few hours.
The amount of radioactive substances in water samples collected on January 17 from a well, situated on the territory of the second unit of the Fukushima power plant, exceeded 24 million Bq per liter with the standard of 150 million Bq per liter. In order to put an end to the leaks at the wrecked power station, Japanese want to freeze earth around all four damaged reactor buildings.
The ice wall will run circa 1.5 kilometers. Vertical pipes with coolant will be drilled into the radioactive ground. This technology is rather costly and hasn’t been used on such a large scale ever, Oleg Dvoynikov, the editor-in-chief of Pro atom magazine, told the Voice of Russia.
“As far as the cooling of earth is concerned, surely, it’s possible to do it from a technical point of view. But they will need a nitrogen unit, practically, a plant working non-stop. It’s bad the Japanese won’t let any foreign experts visit the station. And there were offers of help, not only from Russia but from many other countries too,” he says.
Technically, freezing the soil is quite possible. However, for this, a nitrogen device is needed – and this device, in fact, is a large plant that should work non-stop.
For some reason, the Japanese do not let any foreign specialists help them in liquidating the consequences of the Fukushima accident, although many countries, including Russia, have already offered their help.
“Even if the soil around the nuclear power plant is totally frozen, this won’t fully eliminate the danger,” Oleg Dvoynikov says. “I believe that the liquidation of the Fukushima accident’s consequences might have been much better organized if the works were managed not by the company that operates the Fukushima plant but by the Japanese government. This would have made the works much more effective – and much cheaper.”
“The Japanese are behaving rather strangely,” Mr. Dvoynikov continues. “First, for some reason, they do not hurry to clean up the consequences of the catastrophe until the situation becomes very critical for the entire humankind. Then, they start to do something, but, again for some unknown reason, they invent very complicated decisions, although they might have invented foreign specialists who would have helped them to build waste treatment facilities a long time ago. This would have been much cheaper and much more effective.”
Meanwhile, experts all over the world are very much concerned about the fact that the well from where the water samples were taken is situated only in 40 miles from the seashore, which makes it very likely that the radioactive water may get into the ocean. It has been already found out that more than one half of all the fishes that have been caught in the sea near Fukushima contained radioactive metals in their bodies. Moreover, radioactive substances have been discovered in the organisms of fishes and whales 1,000 kms away from Fukushima.
Scientist Igor Ostretsov, who managed the liquidation of the consequences of the explosion at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986, says:
“It shouldn’t be forgotten that radioactive emissions at the Fukushima power plant are still taking place all the time since the beginning of the catastrophe. The reactors are cooling, the plant’s workers don’t know what they should do with the water that cools the reactors, and simply pour it into the sea. This may lead to nothing than elimination of fish resources, however toughly controlled the process may be.”
The Japanese authorities are pretending that they are keeping everything under control. Moreover, they are saying that the Fukushima problems will create no obstacles for holding the Olympic Games which are planned to take place in Tokyo in 2020. However, experts are saying that it will take not lesser than 40 years to fully eliminate the consequences of the Fukushima accident and to dismantle the power plant’s reactors. Only God knows what else may happen within these 40 years. It looks like anyway, Japan won’t be able to do without the help of foreign specialists in solving the Fukushima problem.